Monday, March 23, 2015

Asian fusion brunch at The Union

The Union on Urbanspoon

I'm always interested in curious foods, so it's no surprise the Asian fusion menu at The Union caught my eye--especially what seemed to be a creative fusion brunch (i.e., more than just omelettes and eggs benedict).

The location is in a sketchy part of town, but on the Sunday morning we showed up for brunch right at 10 AM when they opened, the street was very quiet with most of the action just one street over with their busy grocery markets.
There's a bit of street parking for cars as well as a bike lane. The neighboring stores are all revitalized and new-ish looking, compared to the rest of the Chinatown neighbourhood.

Long communal tables and a mix of short benches and single-seater stools make up the dining space in The Union. This being Vancouver, don't count on the seating arrangement to necessarily encourage conversation with neighbours you don't know.
Oddities include soy sauce in what look like cough syrup bottles, and a sign that boasts "premium cigarettes available".

Pandesal French Toast ($11) five spice toffee sauce, sautéed Asian pears, whipped cream, rum toasted coconut
  • The quantity of toast you get roughly adds up to two and a half or three average slices of bread.
  • Clearly a lot of coconut involved and even seared directly onto to the toast.
  • The pears didn't taste like anything at all. Probably a fluke kitchen accident or something.
  • There's rum in this?
  • Despite the list of ingredients, this basically tastes like toast soaked in toffee sauce, with a large dollop of whipped cream.
Filipino Pankaplog ($14) two eggs (choice of fried or scrambled), sinangag, pickled papaya, pandesal, curry spiced hashbrowns, choice of sausage or bacon
  • Pankaplog is a slang term for breakfast that mainly consists of pande sal (bread), kape (coffee), and itlog (egg). Coffee is not included in your order.
  • It adds up to a decent meal but the neat piles of each item on your plate makes your order look small.
  • The quantity of sinangag (garlic fried rice) you get looks small, but it is flavourful, tasty, and has a richness which may be off-putting in too larger a quantity.
Lapu Lapu ($5) cucumber juice, coconut water, ginger, calamansi, pandan syrup
  • A strange cocktail that has a chaotic flavour in your mouth, with the various ingredients competing with each other.
  • Maybe because of the pandan leaf decorating the glass, there was a grassy flavour to the drink as well.
  • About 40% (?) ice cubes.
The items I tried feel overpriced by a couple of dollars for what you get, though arguably you are paying for exotic ingredients, which may or may not be worth a couple of extra dollars to you, especially as you could instead just go to an ethnic hole-in-the-wall restaurant--often quite a cheap alternative.

The Union (and their other Cascade Company sister restaurants) is a Mealshare charity partner.

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